Police have identified the suspect accused of killing 10 people – including a policeman – at a Colorado supermarket.
It marked the United States’ second mass shooting in a week and added to the state’s tragic history of deadly massacres.
The suspect, Ahmad Al Aliwi Alissa, 21, of Arvada, Colorado, stormed the King Soopers outlet in Boulder armed with a semi-automatic rifle and handgun while wearing a tactical vest, all of which were recovered after the shooting on Monday (local time), according to an arrest affidavit filed by police on Tuesday.
The affidavit also said law enforcement databases show Alissa purchased a Ruger AR-556 pistol, a weapon that resembles a semi-automatic rifle and has a 30-round capacity, on March 16, six days before the shooting.
His sister-in-law told police on Monday that Alissa had been “playing with” a firearm she described as resembling a “machine gun” two days before the attack, upsetting family members, the affidavit said.
Alissa was released from a hospital, where he was treated for a leg wound suffered in an exchange of gunfire with responding police, and transported to county jail on Tuesday afternoon to await an initial court appearance on first degree murder and other charges.
Authorities said they were confident he acted alone, though they did not offer any details on what might have motivated him to open fire at the store, which is about 45 km northwest of Denver.
The 10 victims range in age from 20 to 65 and include Eric Talley, an 11-year veteran of the Boulder police force who was among the first officers on the scene. Talley, 51, was the father of seven children and had recently been looking for a less dangerous job, according to a statement released by his father.
Police identified the nine other victims as Denny Stong, 20; Neven Stanisic, 23; Rikki Olds, 25; Tralona Bartkowiak, 49; Suzanne Fountain, 59; Teri Leiker, 51; Kevin Mahoney, 61; Lynn Murray, 62; and Jody Waters, 65.
The two mass shootings are likely to intensify pressure on Democratic President Joe Biden to fulfill his campaign pledge to enact tougher gun limits. But legislation to ban assault-style weapons and tighten background checks have stalled amid Republican opposition in Congress.
“I don’t need to wait another minute, let alone another hour, to take common-sense steps that will save lives in the future,” Biden said at the White House on Tuesday.
“This is not and should not be a partisan issue.”
House of Representatives Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, the Democratic leaders in Congress, said on Tuesday the violence underscored the need for stricter gun laws.
Mr Biden also ordered US flags to fly at half-staff in honour of the victims; they had just been raised at sunset on Monday after having been lowered following the Atlanta killings.
Monday’s attack, which began about 2.40 pm, sent terrified shoppers and employees fleeing for safety amid the sound of gunfire.
When apprehended, Alissa did not answer questions but asked to speak with his mother, according to the affidavit.
Colorado has been the site of some of the most shocking episodes of gun violence in US history, including the 2012 mass shooting at a movie theatre in Aurora and the 1999 rampage at Columbine High School near Littleton.
The latest bloodshed came only six days after a gunman went on a killing spree on March 16 in the Atlanta area, fatally shooting eight people at three day spas before he was arrested.
“My heart aches today, and I think all of ours does, as Coloradans, as Americans, for this senseless tragedy and loss of life,” Governor Jared Polis said.